With over 1.7 million followers on Tiktok, The brilliant female-led band have struck it big.
Dallas-born sisters Kaylen (20), Kelsey (19), and Kristen (16) who have struck it big, amassing a quarter billion views and 36 million likes on TikTok alone! The musically talented sisters have found a niche performing harmonic melodies inspired by Harry Potter.
The girls started gaining attention after touring and performing around Texas, and while they received mostly positive reviews and comments from fans, they also got their first taste of online trolls who began posting negative comments on their social pages. This crushed them but they soon decided to rise above it and formulated their motto known as #k3motto which has become more than a personal coping mechanism of focus and empowerment, it is a rallying call that has empowered and uplifted their fans as well. Many, many comments from fans on their social media attest to the life-changing motto that stands up to bullies. They additionally wrote an anti-bullying song “Sticks and Stones” which has garnered thousands of views on YouTube.
I chatted with the girls about their songwriting process, dream collaborations and how to make the perfect TikTok.
How have you been? What have you been doing to stay creative during quarantine?
Kaylen: These months of the three of us being in quarantine in Dallas, Texas have been the best of times, and the worst of times. After years of hard work developing relationships with cities, festivals and entertainment venues, we had finally booked our biggest year of concerts only to have every one cancelled due to the pandemic. That was emotionally crushing. But, a silver lining began to show through that disappointment when our TikTok account began to blow up. Today we have received over 230 million views and 1.7 million followers. All in a matter of months!
Kelsey: And, by staying busy writing new songs, live streaming concerts and interactive talk shows from our home studio, we have made countless thousands of new friends and fans from over 40 countries!
Kristen: So, during this quarantine we have worked harder than ever before at writing dozens of new songs, filming music videos, and developing dance routines for our short-form videos for TikTok, Instagram and Facebook. Also, we just jumped on board the Reels bandwagon which is the brand new addition to Instagram. We kind of haven’t had time to think too much about what we are missing, but every once in a while we find ourselves drifting back to memories of 2019 and the “good times.” That’s a bit painful.
What inspired you to create ‘Queen Bellatrix’?
Kristen: OMG! As things were exploding on all our social media I was dabbling with cosplay and anime. It was a lot of fun until I suddenly began to be bullied online, and receiving hate comments. I became very upset, and my sisters and parents tried to comfort me. But, it just didn’t help enough. But everything changed after I watched a special on the band Heart led by sisters Nancy and Ann. They fought back against bullying by writing the song “Barracuda” which I love. I found myself in my room writing a special song to release my pain on stage! I chose the villainous character Bellatrix from Harry Potter to create a bully in a song that wound up with me acting and singing in a Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde motif culminating with me venting my satisfaction at seeing this fictional bully get what she deserved. I really amped it up in full costume on our YouTube music video, and today I love performing it for our fans who request it at every show.
What’s your songwriting process like? Do you do anything to get into the ‘zone’?
Kaylen: That’s a great question! As other songwriters out there already know, there are many
paths that lead you into the songwriting ‘zone.’ In my case, I am often in my room strumming an acoustic guitar when a melody magically emerges, and I feel an emotional connection to it. Then I imagine a context, past memory, or current feeling and a little lyrical “hook” pops into my head. It sounds crazy, but in a matter of minutes or hours I have added all kinds of connective lyrical tissue to the hook, and the structure of the song begins to emerge including most often a verse, chorus and the elusive yet powerful bridge.
Kristen: Years ago my dad told me that his trick in songwriting was to immediately record any lyric or melody that popped into his head on a portable cassette tape machine he carried around with him. Sometimes he even recorded small snippets in the middle of the night after waking up from a dream. So, I began doing the same thing with my cell phone, and his trick has worked for me too! Some of my songs developed over several years with me going back to those many short cell phone recordings and adding skin and bones to the unformed inspiration. And at other times, some of my songs just come to me in the biggest rush of excitement, and they are almost completed in minutes. For example, I wrote a lot of one of our most requested hits on a napkin at McDonald’s having breakfast with my dad!
Kelsey: I think it also should be mentioned that just about every time one of us comes up with a new song, there are important times where we all sit down and listen to the song, and offer input as to how the song could be improved. So, in a very real way every K3 Sisters Band original song is a collaboration.
What makes the perfect TikTok?
Kristen: Wow! They say beauty is in the eyes of the beholder, but you also have to remember, the people are never wrong. What I mean is that many times we work for hours creating a 15 second TikTok that we absolutely invest our souls into, and it doesn’t perform as well with views, likes and shares as one that we carelessly put together on a whim, and it goes viral. Totally crazy.
Kelsey: The important thing to us as creators is to separate two value judgments when it comes to TikTok. So firstly, we have dedicated ourselves to the belief that if we produce and release a TikTok video that we are proud of, then that is a “perfect” TikTok. At the same time, we kind of release the creative “ownership” of the TikTok at the point of posting it. This empowers the viewers around the world to decide how they wish to interpret it, like it, and maybe share it. So, if it’s only about the numbers, then the perfect TikToks are merely the ones with the most views. Nevertheless, when a TikTok of ours goes viral we are all super exhilarated!
Kaylen: We have analyzed TikToks that went viral for us and others to see if we could determine the anatomy of the perfect TikTok with respect to multi-millions of views. What we have found so far is that there are several distinct features to consider. Some mega accounts repeatedly post very similar videos and repeatedly benefit from their sheer numbers. In our case, it includes serving up consistent, high-quality content to a fandom such as the Harry Potter community that is always appreciative of new and authentic content. We also participate in fun trends, use new background music, and perform challenges that people like to watch. Finally, we are unafraid to experiment with mixing and blending different genres to see people’s reactions. We did this successfully with our Heathers x Harry Potter series of TikToks.
Who would be your dream musical collaboration?
Kristen: Harry Styles because to me he is the modern-day Mick Jagger. Also, his melodies and themes are super catchy, and lately his folk sound such as in “Canyon Moon” has really got me envisioning performing on stage with him. It’s a lot like my song “Girl from Arizona”
Kelsey: Mine would be Charlie Puth because after seeing him live in concert I loved his free-styling on the keyboard, and his spectacular vocal runs. They have me dreaming of being on stage with him free-styling on my bass guitar. Also, since he at times performs with back-up female vocalists, we would give anything to also back him up on harmony vocals.
Kaylen: Australia’s 5 Seconds of Summer tops my dream collaboration list because all three of us have seen them live in Texas four times and loved it. Michael’s lead guitar and Luke’s awesome rhythm guitar are so cool! I could easily play fiddle with them and add some great fills or solos. Since they have really great harmonies in their songs, we have fun in the car singing three-part harmony on their songs in their keys. W dream of walking on stage, and singing with them on pretty much all of their songs.
In terms of modern artists are there any you take guidance from?
Kaylen: Last year we were pouring over a complicated, 33 page, $3 million record contract deal with a major record label involving multiple network television performances when Taylor Swift issued her heart-felt advisory to artists to never give up the ownership and control of their original songs like she had done early in her career. Sure enough, there was a lot of language in the deal in which we were going to have to give up ownership and control of our original songs and much more. After a sleepless night, we refused to sign. Thank you, Tay! We love you.
Kristen: We are huge Ed Sheeran fans especially since our heritage on both sides of our family hails from Scotland. We have studied his rise to fame, and are inspired to keep writing songs thanks in part to his input. In particular, during one televised interview he encouraged all of us to keep writing songs because not all of your songs will be good, but you have to keep writing to find out which ones will become good. Sounds simple, but it transformed our outlook on songwriting. And, I can’t leave out Shakira my fellow 5’3” entertainer who, like us, started her music career early, found success, and went on to become an incredibly hard-working, successful songwriter and powerful female entrepreneur who is now worth over $350 million!
Kelsey: I know that in addition to loving Australia’s 5SOS, we respect the fact that, like us, they have been proud to release live albums, not just studio albums that involve other musicians and studio tricks to cover up their real sound. Additionally, after attending numerous Twenty One Pilots shows and falling in love with them, we constantly consider their positive messages in their songs like when they insist there is a “way out” of the low points in your life. Also, their lyric “We don’t believe what’s on TV because it’s what we want to see” has been burned into our souls. Not all that glitters is gold!
Do you have any pre-show rituals?
Kristen: Right before our live shows and our live stream concerts, if you are backstage you will see me doing my version of Michael Jackson’s moonwalk, or stretching my legs so I’m ready for my signature high kicks over my head during songs. My goal is to do the splits in the middle of a song, and I’m almost there!
Kelsey: Very few people know about our secret handshake that we do right before our shows. We started doing it years ago right before our shows, sometimes with other artists who happened to be backstage with us. No one knows what it is…yet! Also, prior to this pandemic, you might find yourself holding hands in a circle with us and praying to the Muses to smile upon our show and let our lights shine brightly as we participate in an age-old mystical, musical connection with our audience.
Kaylen: Anyone who has sung in a choir knows that it is common to do funny vocal warm-ups to prepare to slay on stage. Right before showtime, you will definitely hear our vocal warm-up mantras such as “Mommy made me mash my M&M’s” or the descending “lee, lay, lah, low, loo”!
What advice would you give someone that would like a career like yours?
Kaylen: It’s never too late to begin to invest in music or entertainment-oriented career, but if you can…start early. Thanks to our parents who met on stage performing and went on to produce hit songs, we were all taking private Suzuki violin lessons when we were 4 years old, as well as singing and performing hundreds of times on stage with their band before we even became the K3 Sisters Band in 2009. The key is to practice, practice, practice. But then again, look at Ed Sheeran who confessed he couldn’t sing at all until much later in his life than you would think! It’s never too late to start.
Kristen: If you have a fire burning deep inside you to sing, act or perform, don’t let other people throw water on it. Nurse and care for that fire. Keep it burning as you search to discover exactly which direction it might lead you. If you start out trying to play an instrument, and it doesn’t go well, then try switching to another one. And, always buy the best quality instrument you can afford when you know it’s the one you will study long term. It’s so much easier to play top quality instruments. Oh, and whether it’s practising an instrument or singing, remember that it’s better to practice daily for 5 or 10 minutes than for several hours only once a week. I think it has to do with how your brain is wired or something.
Kelsey: We have learned that your hometown and even your own family members will at times resist viewing you as a rising star. In fact, in a bizarre twist of society, they will actually try to sabotage your career or develop deep-seated jealousies or become envious of you which you don’t always recognize until you get really hurt. Like 5SOS sings, “This deadbeat town’s only here just to keep us down.” If you can, move away from your hometown, and remember, whatever your family or “homies” say about you, it’s your real fans and future fans that you are seeking to connect with and serve. If you can’t move, always focus on investing yourself into reaching out to those beyond your immediate surroundings. And now, that’s easy with social media!
What would you like fans to take away from your music and/or TikTok videos?
Kristen: The universe will present you with opportunities if you open yourself up to the visions and dreams it offers. I want to share that sense of wonder and transformation that I feel when I am performing live or frozen in time and space on a TikTok or whatever post or video I make. If fans want to view my work in their own special way that somehow touches them, I am thrilled.
Kelsey: I think all entertainers want to find acceptance and love from their friends and fans. So, I hope that our fans know that we feel a special bond of love with them when we read their comments or just look at how many views, likes and shares we receive on TikTok or other social media platforms. Without our fans, we would be performing in a lonely vacuum.
Kaylen: I truly hope that fans of our music and TikTok videos understand that in reality, we are just like them. We laugh, hurt, feel anxiety, and are unsure of what’s happening in the world right now just like them. The only difference is that we have an opportunity to address those fears, joys and uncertainty in our songs and videos that we can share together. We do not have the answers to the big questions of life, but we invite them to support us and each other as we hang on to this crazy ride of life to see where it takes us.
What would be the theme tune to your life?
Kristen: Speaking for the whole band I definitely know that Paul McCartney & Wings’ “Band on the Run” is our theme tune. We always play it at high volume when travelling to concerts, and when we are tired from being up all night someone usually puts it on high volume to wake everyone up in a good mood to go to work. Before the pandemic we were constantly loading up, travelling to the show, setting up the stage, performing, tearing down the stage, loading out, hitting the highway exhausted and secretly thinking, “In the town, they’re searching for us everywhere, but we never will be found. Band on the run!”
But for me personally, it would be “The Music of the Night” from The Phantom of the Opera because I totally relate to the lyrics, “Let your soul take you where you long to be.” And, “Let your darker side give in to the power of the music that I write.” I even bought my sisters and myself matching music boxes that play this awesome song!
Kelsey: Currently my theme song would be Twenty One Pilots “Ride” because the lyric “I’m falling, so I’m taking my time on my ride” makes me realize that it’s not always about the end of the journey and the “win,” it’s more about what happens along the way with your family, friends and loyal fans in life that is so worth enjoying and cherishing.
Kaylen: Frank Sinatra’s “My Way” is my theme tune because the lyrics “I faced it all, and I stood tall and did it my way,” plus “To say the things he truly feels and not the words of one who kneels” really inspire me on a daily basis. I have to concentrate on allowing myself space and confidence to not compare myself to others but remain authentic especially when some suit is pushing me or the band to do or say something that we really don’t believe in. It’s not about the money, it’s about being who you are with no regrets.